Headquarters: New York, USA
Vertical: K-12, Higher Education
Tech: Web App, Mobile App
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
While you might have historically called programs like Chalkup a learning management system, we’re really interested in changing that. We think of ourselves as a class collaboration platform.
We do everything a learning management system can, but with a gorgeous, user-friendly interface that is optimized for keeping classes in touch and sharing resources. Beyond being ridiculously easy-to-use, Chalkup integrates seamlessly with Google Drive.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Justin Chando and Tim Costa met during undergrad at Lafayette College in Easton, PA.
Justin currently serves as the CEO and Tim as the CTO of Chalkup.
How was the idea for your startup born?
When Justin Chando and Tim Costa were in college, they were introduced to one of the most widely-used LMSes in the country to receive and submit assignments. And it was not awesome.
Besides being massively difficult to use, this LMS did very little to connect classmates and share resources. Discussion threads were empty; using the system was a formality, if it was used at all.
Following their frustrating edtech experience in college, Justin and Tim gathered a group of equally-frustrated friends and got to work.
The idea was to create the LMS their classrooms deserved. The system was built from scratch, and the team engineered solutions from the library basement and dorm rooms. Connection and collaboration were put at the forefront, and the team built a system that was ridiculously easy to use.
Just one year later – after graduation – Chalkup was launched.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
Besides being massively difficult to use, the modern LMS does little to connect classmates and share resources effectively. We seek to fill that void.
Above all else, Chalkup is built for collaboration, not to “manage learning.”
Further, we believe that classroom tech is not just about schools going 1:1 and getting devices to replace paper-based processes, but instead how we shift classroom culture to do more with tech. No technology for the sake of technology. We aim to build tools that allow instructors to stay in touch with their classes and make real connections after the bell rings.
Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?
We understand that even though we believe we’ve built something fundamentally different than the modern learning management system, we’re competing against all the other LMSes in both K-12 and higher ed environments.
Chalkup aims to be the most intuitive tool – and the most powerful.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
Chalkup is most active in K-12 schools in the U.S.
We’re excited about the fantastic opportunities that have come our way in higher ed, and we look forward to doing more with our higher ed users. The product was piloted in a college environment and is a great fit.
Who is your target audience.
Our core customers are data-driven schools that value staying connected and using technology to spark collaboration between students.
We’re working with teachers and administrators who know the conversation doesn’t stop when a class is dismissed.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
We love being members of the edtech community. We engage with our target audience on social media every day and put a lot of effort into producing interesting edtech content.
The product was piloted with real classes, and we continue to engage with our users through surveys and interviews about how we’re doing and what could be better.
Our product is free to use for teachers and students – that’s something we love about our model. It’s allowed anyone who is interested in Chalkup to give it a try.
How many users / downloads does your service have?
Chalkup currently has over 50,000 users.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
Our product is free to use for teachers and students.
Schools that upgrade to Chalkup Pro (https://www.chalkup.co/pro) – our enterprise platform – pay per student, per year.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
We recently launched the latest and greatest version of our app for iOS (http://blog.chalkup.co/download-chalkup-app-for-ios).
We’re especially proud of the positive response and can’t wait to release our app for Android.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
We’re thrilled to be hiring right now. As our team grows, we look forward to improving Chalkup, releasing our app for Android, and pursuing thoughtful and creative integrations with our platform, all based on our user’s feedback.
Further, we can’t wait to work more with our higher ed users and grow our presence on college campuses.
How can people get in touch with you.
Room for anything else you would like to add.
We’re optimizing for connection and collaboration, and we’re making a beautiful user experience along the way.
Powerful tools don’t need to be ugly tools. We’re putting the care and thoughtfulness behind designing a user experience that works for students and teachers (not just one or the other).